April is National Stress Awareness Month. Recognizing that high levels of prolonged stress have a detrimental impact on our physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual health, I wanted to offer sessions that are specifically dedicated to addressing stress.
I am a recovering people-pleasing fawner with the occasional desire to flee.
I have worked in the non-profit arena my entire professional career … I know stress. In the past, I used a lot of destructive and unhealthy habits to numb, and often disassociate, myself to the strain, pressure, and anxiety of the job. My stress wasn’t just reserved for work matters. I was anxious in conflict situations. I stressed over my communications and interactions with others, worrying that I had done/said something wrong. I agonized over the future and often became avoidant of difficult decisions or conversations. Sometimes my stress felt like more than I could handle and that it would never end.
I have learned how to address my stress through several practices, both physical and mental, that have provided me an efficient and sustainable way to process my stress.
In honor of the month of April, I am offering a limited number of 30-minute sessions that are geared toward addressing your specific stressors and cocreating a unique roadmap to help feel grounded and a sense of ease in your life. To keep this personal development work financially accessible, these sessions will be Pay What You Decide. I am here today through the generosity of my mentors and coaches, and I am grateful for their help and gifts.
Click here to sign up for sessions:
Client Victory and Testimonial
I have been Coaching with Chris for two years now. So many things I can share about the benefits that this person has had on my life in terms of my marriage, my job as a Mom, and my own individual person. I think that his focus on ME is what makes me a better partner, a better Mom, a better friend, and a happier person.
This past weekend my sibling came to Northern Nevada for my son’s 12th birthday party. My sibling came into my home last night and the plan was to watch a film that was an Oscar nominee. My sibling had spent all day with our parents – who produce their own negative energy. He came in the house with a very negative energy and began to influence my feelings. Manifesting in anxiety for me. I was able to notice this in my body and to recognize that my best solution was to say, “I am feeling some negative energy here. I am not saying that you are doing anything wrong. But I think I need to go upstairs and take a break. Then I will come back down and we can resume our time together.” My sibling did not like this and noticed that I had teared up. They then said I was acting like a baby. I continued on my mission to retreat for a respite. At this moment it became verbally abusive. My sibling said I was over-reacting. Then they began to make baby sounds to shame me for crying. I stopped breathing at a certain point. I was being gaslit. I then said, “get out of my house.” They left and I immediately retreated to my bathroom. My coaching kicked in. I sat in my grief. The grief that the relationship wouldn’t be what I wanted it to be. But, eventually, in the knowledge, that for once in my beautiful life I had set a boundary. When I was 13 years old I had taken a bottle of pills because this same sibling fat shamed me.
Sitting in the bathroom and sitting in my bad feelings. That is part one. Part two is 15 minutes later. Talking to my husband about what happened. He says, “You used to do that to me when I made you feel insecure.” WHAT???? He is absolutely right. My sibling and I are cut from the same cloth. I didn’t bite back. I heard him. And he was right. It made me sad that I had spent so many years treating my husband like that.
My love coaching has saved and reinvigorated my relationship with my soul mate. My wonderful husband. It has made me a better mother. A better friend. A better educator. And, in terms of the incident I laid out above, I am able to reframe what happened with my sibling and have love and empathy for the pain they must be in.
Christopher’s coaching has changed my life. In all facets. I continue to receive coaching. And I continue to learn and be nurtured by it. Please don’t sit in your pain anymore. You may not even realize what you are going through. We are human. We are damaged. We all need some Love Coaching. xo
I'm sure all of you can relate to this. A friend seeks your advice. As you begin to relate your thoughts, your friend fervently interrupts you with, "I know, I know I know". A coworker reaches out to you for feedback on a particular project. As you share you some insight with your coworker, they - in a tone almost laced with annoyance - state "I know, I know, I know".
I see this all of the time in coaching sessions. Primarily, clients frustrated with themselves for showing up a certain away, reacting to a conflict in a certain manner, or fixated on a particular person or event. Whenever I hear the words, "I know, I know, I know" I am aware that a couple of things are happening:
1. Their intellectual body may have an understanding, but that understanding hasn't fully integrated into their feeling body.
2. Since it hasn't fully integrated, it's simply information and not embodied wisdom.
3. Their statement of "I know, I know, I know" serves only to foster self-judgment and self-shame, because it operates off of the belief that they should have done something differently or be somewhere different.
4. Also, the client stating "I know, I know, I know" could be a protective measure, for they may be in fear of how they will be perceived - by myself and others - and are wanting to convince me of their worth.
As a coach, I can provide a judgement-free, shame-free place for the client to accept where they are, right now at this moment, which may include recognizing the dissonance between their intellectual and feeling body (more on this in the next post). From there, we can begin to reframe the situation by acknowledging the factors that led to the choice/reaction - while still holding them accountable to their choices. More importantly, we begin to explore to the feelings that surround the situation, moving from the intellectual body to the feeling body. Finally, we develop a strategy for what can be done differently, always centering our responsibility and the choices available.
If you find yourself saying, "I know, I know, I know", in personal or professional circumstances I invite you ask yourself, "why is it important for me that others know I am aware of the information they're sharing?".
- Am I worried about how they will perceive me?
- Am I concerned about creating a power dynamic in which I feel indebted to them?
- Am I afraid, if I were to follow through on said advice/insight, that the person would use that against me and make it about themselves (the "see I told you" scenario).
If you find yourself in a similar situation, and are looking for someone to create a container to process your feelings and co-create a strategy to address future situations, consider setting a one-on-one coaching session with me today.
Permission to Grieve
A couple of weekends ago, I gave myself permission to grieve.
I always felt grief was a process reserved for when we lost a loved one. It wasn't until recently, through my work of studying complex trauma, that I have come to understand that life can be, and often is, a continual process of grieving. We grieve the loss of relationships, opportunities, and jobs. We might mourn our mistakes, how we showed up, and how situations unfolded. We can also lament our childhoods and the moments of trauma where we experienced emotional neglect and abandonment.
Grief is a ritual to remain present with what is as opposed to bypassing to where we feel like we should be.
When my mistakes led to the loss (specifically referencing opportunities, relationships, or jobs), I felt that I didn’t deserve to grieve. Or worse, I masked my shame as grief, and my period of mourning was really about self-blame and self-judgment. What I denied myself by never allowing space for my grieving was to feel; to feel anger, to feel sadness, and eventually arrive at a place of acceptance.
So this weekend, I grieved and released. I played music on the side of a mountain, explored readings about our shadow and letting go, and had a little conversation with Spiritah about the nature of my world.
STOP SAYING i'M SORRY ...
Thank you to everyone that shared openly with me in response to my “I am a Recovering People Pleaser” Post. Your own stories and experiences resonated with me deeply, and I am excited to continue to share strategies and tips I employ myself, and utilize everyday with my clients. I know the destructiveness that my people pleaser actions caused within my own life, and in my relationships with friends, family, and colleagues, so anything that I can do to serve and help others shift these behaviors, I am thrilled to do.
For today. I encourage y'all to stop saying I’m sorry. I used to find myself apologizing for everything; from a slight collision in the hallway, to how others reacted to my choices and decisions. My apologies were automatic; before I had accessed my own feelings or really understood what happened, I would say it. My saying “I’m sorry” was a fawning tactic to disarm the other person so that they, hopefully, wouldn’t be mad at me, and therefore pull love from our relationship. When I said I’m sorry, I was often communicating that I was responsible for the other person’s pain, and therefore their happiness as well, which is a typical dynamic with a people pleaser.
My apologies had nothing to do with taking responsibility for my actions, and the consequences thereof, but was a defense mechanism aimed at protecting myself. My apologies were selfish, because they were about me and what I could get from the situation, and not in fact about addressing potential harm or cleaning up my mess.
How do we stop saying “I’m sorry” all the time? We recognize that “I’m sorry” has become a learned behavior in response to a fear (the fear of being a disappointment, unlovable, etc). If it is a learned response, then we have agency to make a different choice. We can remind ourselves that we are worthy and loveable, and that our mistakes do not change our immutable worth as a human being. We can reframe our responsibilities by repeating to ourselves that “I am not responsible for your pain or your happiness, however I am responsible for my choices and the consequences that occurred as a result.” My favorite is whenever I slip into saying I’m sorry, a trusted friend will dramatically shout, in the most ridiculous manner, “YOU SHOULD BE, HOW DARE YOU?”. It always makes me chuckle, and in a loving and hilarious way, reminds me to not say that anymore.
So what are some things you can say instead of I'm sorry:
I hear you
I did that, and it probably made you feel that I didn’t care about you.
What do you need?
These statements take responsibility, speak to the pain point, and move us toward addressing the harm.
Do you find yourself saying “I’m sorry” often, especially for minor or inconsequential things?
I am a recovering people pleaser. My people pleasing has manifested in several different ways over the years. Readily saying yes to all requests, favors, and invitations because I feared my no would lead to disappointment. Feigning indifference so as to appear agreeable or saying things like “it's fine” or “I don’t care where we eat” when in fact, I do have a strong opinion, but fear that my opinion may upset someone in the group. Agonizing over what to say in text messages, feeling the need to overly justify, explain, or rationalize my decisions out of fear they will not be accepted. Stifling and suppressing any feelings or emotions that weren't happy or jovial so as to not burden anyone with my struggles. At my core, I would struggle to dismantle a daily belief system that I am not good enough, and because I am not good enough, I am unworthy of love.
I recognize that this is not true; fear is often an irrational narrative playing out the possibilities of future pain. I recognize that these are survival mechanisms I adopted from an early age, believing that my worth was intrinsically tied to what I produced, and how what I offered made other people feel. When I behaved, followed rules, and made life easier for others, I was applauded, repeatedly told I was a good boy, and often rewarded. In this way, I learned to be self-sacrificing, amenable, and prioritize others’ needs and wants because I truly believed that was the only way that others could possibly love me. I never learned to draw healthy boundaries, advocate for my wants, and stand firm in the knowing of my worth. I recognize that these were, and are, my choices and that I make these choices when I am empty or am acting out of fear, and take full responsibility for them.
My people pleasing nature changed about four years ago, when I dove deep into my coaching studies, understanding my trauma response cycle, and discovered strategies I could implement to disrupt my ingrained patterns. Learning how to heal my core wounds, navigate my stress, and feel confident in advocating my wants and needs has been life saving. It is daily personal practice of self-soothing and self-expression, personal assessment, and boundary drawing as I continue to understand and heal these wounds.
Today, I wanted to share one of my favorite strategies; one that irrevocably shifted how I relate to myself, and others, in a personal and professional capacity. I use this everyday, and have shared this with my clients who also found it super helpful. As a people pleaser, I would readily agree to every request, invitation, or favor asked of me without thoughtfully thinking about the request itself, and its consequences to myself or others. So now, before I answer, I have learned to take a sacred pause and ask myself these three questions: What am I willing to do, What am I capable of doing, and What do I need in order to do it?
These three questions allow me to check-in and see where am I at, how am I feeling, and what I need in order to be successful. They give me space to understand my personal limitations and amend requests. Every time that I ask myself these questions, I am communicating to my mind, body, and spirit that my needs have worth and I am worthy of my needs. The more I do this, the guilt and shame surrounding the act of prioritizing my happiness dissipates and I feel more empowered.
For all my people pleasers out there, recovered, recovering, or in the thick of it, what strategies and tools have you found to be successful and where have you struggled drawing boundaries or advocating your wants/needs?
I recently attended a "Trauma Informed Practices" workshop through Theatre Intimacy Education where we explored the trouble of wielding phrases such as "safe space" and "trust me" as they are often leveraged by those in power to exert control, whether that is in the rehearsal room or board room.
I remember facilitating groups in college believing that I was reducing possible harm by stating that "this is a safe space". At no point did I question, safe for whom or safe from what. Safety is personal and it is relative; what is safe for me, may be in stark contrast as to what is safe for you. In the workshop we learned that safety is complicated because those they have experienced trauma know the world is not safe; trauma literally recodes various structures of the brain. Safety is personal and it is relative. Most importantly, facilitators in the workshop shared that safety is not comfort, and it is our job to unlink them. The illusion of safety or safe spaces is often utilized to get individuals to violate their own boundaries; to take risks, divulge sensitive information, or consent to things they otherwise wouldn't.
Trust is a mechanism of coercion. Trust can often be used to imply unrealistic expectations or infer anticipated behavior, "I trust you to do X" or as a means to energetically dump pain or trauma on another individual, "I trust you all with this information". It can also be a means by which override objection, "just trust me".
Safety and trust obscure inherent power dynamics and thus often actively work against spaces that are intending to be consent-based and trauma-informed. That's why they are problematic. They are readily pulled out under the guise of reducing harm, when in fact, they often cause more.
Christopher W. Daniels,